Golfgate

  • Court cases arising out of what has been called "Golfgate" have been adjourned until late October.

    Independent Galway TD Noel Grealish and former Fianna Fáil Senator Donie Cassidy were served with summonses in relation to an alleged breach of Covid-19 laws.

    Their cases were listed before the judge at Clifden District Court in Co Galway this morning.

    The names of John Sweeney, the owner of the Clifden Station House Hotel, and his son James Sweeney - the hotel's general manager - also appeared on the list.

    The four men are accused of breaking Covid-19 laws in relation to a dinner that took place in the hotel last summer, during a time when the country was under Level 3 restrictions, which limited indoor gatherings to 50 people.

    The dinner marked the end of a two-day golfing event, hosted by the Oireachtas Golf Society.

    None of the accused were required to attend court in person today, but were represented by lawyers.

    The case will be mentioned again at the end of October with a view to setting a hearing date, if necessary.

     

  • The Chief Justice is expected to meet Supreme Court judge Seamus Woulfe later to discuss the fallout from the 'golfgate' controversy.

    There were 81 people at the now infamous Oireachtas golf society dinner in Clifden last August, which breached Covid-19 restrictions.

    Agriculture Minister Dara Calleary and EU Commissioner Phil Hogan resigned over their attendances while Senator Jerry Buttimer also stepped down as Leas-Cathaoirleach of the Seanad.

    Supreme Court judge Seamus Woulfe's attendance was the subject of a review by former Chief Justice Susan Denham, but that found he should not be forced to step down over the scandal.

    Today's meeting between Mr Justice Woulfe and the Chief Justice is the fourth attempt to discuss the findings.

    It was deferred twice last week and once earlier this week at the request of Justice Woulfe, once for medical reasons.

    After the latest postponement, the Chief Justice indicated his serious concern about the damage the process was causing.

    He said that should today's meeting not go ahead, he would be making alternative arrangements to convey his final views on the process to Justice Woulfe.

     

     

  • The Chief Justice is expected to meet Supreme Court judge Seamus Woulfe later to discuss the fallout from the 'golfgate' controversy.

    There were 81 people at the now infamous Oireachtas golf society dinner in Clifden last August, which breached Covid-19 restrictions.

    Agriculture Minister Dara Calleary and EU Commissioner Phil Hogan resigned over their attendances while Senator Jerry Buttimer also stepped down as Leas-Cathaoirleach of the Seanad.

    Supreme Court judge Seamus Woulfe's attendance was the subject of a review by former Chief Justice Susan Denham, but that found he should not be forced to step down over the scandal.

    Today's meeting between Mr Justice Woulfe and the Chief Justice is the fourth attempt to discuss the findings.

    It was deferred twice last week and once earlier this week at the request of Justice Woulfe, once for medical reasons.

    After the latest postponement, the Chief Justice indicated his serious concern about the damage the process was causing.

    He said that should today's meeting not go ahead, he would be making alternative arrangements to convey his final views on the process to Justice Woulfe.

     

     

  • Mayo TD Dara Calleary has resigned as deputy leader of Fianna Fáil.

    Taoiseach Micheál Martin confirmed the move on national radio this morning, as the fallout continues from last week’s controversial Oireachtas Golf Society dinner in Clifden.

    Ballina-based TD Dara Calleary, who has held the position of deputy leader since 2018, was among a number of politicians who attended the controversial Oireachtas Golf Society event.

    He tendered his resignation as Agriculture Minster on Friday morning, and has since resigned as deputy leader and national secretary of the party.

     

  • Two politicians and two hoteliers are due to appear before a court in Clifden this morning in connection with the alleged breach of Covid-19 regulations.

    They received summonses earlier this year, after the DPP decided to bring charges arising from an investigation into the organisation of an Oireachtas Golf Society dinner last summer.

    The controversial dinner took place in the Station House Hotel in Clifden, Co Galway on August 19th 2020, following a two-day golfing event, hosted by the Oireachtas Golf Society.

    At the time, Galway West TD, Noel Grealish was the captain, while former Fianna Fáil TD and Senator, Donie Cassidy, was the society's president.

    Both are due before Clifden District Court later this morning charged with an alleged breach of the legislation underpinning the laws to control the spread of Covid-19.

    Local businessman and developer of the Station House Hotel John Sweeney and his son James, the hotel's general manager, are also on the court's list.

     

     

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    Mr Justice Seamus Woulfe has agreed to a three-month suspension without pay from the Supreme Court.

    The suggested reprimand was accepted by Mr Justice Wolfe as a result of his attendance at the controversial golf society dinner in Clifden in August.

    The event took place contrary to public advice in relation to the Covid-19 pandemic and resulted in a number of high-profile resignations.

    It emerged from correspondence released last night that Chief Justice Frank Clarke told Mr Woulfe he thought he should resign over the matter, but in an email response, Mr Justice Woulfe said he had no intention of stepping down.

    He accepted his attendance was "inappropriate" but outlined in great detail why he didn't feel he had done anything wrong.

    He agreed to the Chief Justice's suggested reprimand: no work until February and a waiver of his salary for that three-month period.

    He also said he hoped they could move on from this and work in a "collegiate and friendly fashion" going forward.

     

     

  • Galway West Independent TD Noel Grealish, who's captain of the Oireachtas Golf Society, says he will not resign over his role in organising last week's event in Connemara, which led to the resignation of Mayo's Dara Calleary as Agriculture Minister.

    However, Deputy Grealish admitted the dinner not should have gone ahead in the Station House Hotel in Clifden.

    He said the decision to go ahead with the dinner was taken by the golf society president Donie Cassidy, based on advice received from the Irish Hotels Federation.

    While he does not intend to resign over the issue, Deputy Grealish said he will co-operate fully with the Garda enquiry taking place into the incident.

    The Galway West TD has also denied that a pre-dinner drinks reception took place at another hotel in Clifden before the Oireachtas Golf Society dinner last week.

    Deputy Grealish admitted that people are extremely upset by last week's event, as a lot of people have paid a very heavy price with coronavirus, and feel let down by everyone who attended the Clifden function.

    He says they should have cancelled the dinner and has sincerely apologised for his involvement.

     

  • Seamus Woulfe is sitting as a Supreme Court judge for the first time today.

    The former Attorney General is part of a three judge panel considering a number of cases that have applied for appeals to the court.

    It is the first time he has taken his Supreme Court seat since the Golfgate controversy at Clifen arose last summer.

    Justice Woulfe is due to sit on two more panels for the Court later this month.